When the A’s signed Rich Hill to a one-year, $6 million contract in 2015, they were picking up a guy who, more than a decade into his injury-plagued career, had just opted out of a minor league contract with the Nationals and thrown a couple starts (and peed in a few buckets) for the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League.
He went on to have one of the better stints of his career in early 2016 before getting traded to the Dodgers. A year later, he still managed to shine — this time as a National League Champion in the World Series — despite being part of a rotation that featured both Clayton Kershaw and Yu Darvish.
Given the success of the Hill signing, the A’s should go for it again with 29-year-old free agent Miles Mikolas, aka “The Lizard King.”
For the first three years of his career, which began in 2009, Mikolas bounced around the lower minor leagues. He made it up to Triple-A, and then to the Padres’ big-league squad for about 30 innings in 2012. From there he was back in the minors for two years, then threw nearly 60 innings for the Rangers in 2014, resulting in a 6-plus ERA.
For obvious reasons, he found himself back in Triple-A in late 2014. There he was able to post quality numbers, going 5-1 with a 3.22 ERA in 44.2 innings with an unreal 12.6 K/BB rate.
His success in Round Rock earned him a contract with Japan’s Yomiuri Giants, in the only league that can rival the MLB. Since making the move to Japan, Mikolas has dominated.
Due to the lack of data from Japan, it’s hard to know exactly what Mikolas changed. However, in 424⅔ innings he’s put up a 2.18 ERA, and in his most recent season he compiled a 9.0 K/9 compared to 1.1 BB/9 — good for an otherworldly 8.1 K/BB rate.
Here’s a recent look (note that there’s a fair amount of coverage of his personal life because his wife has become a local celebrity):
Given the A’s need for pitching depth and Mikolas’ desire to return to the Majors, the parties should be able to work out a reasonable deal.
Mikolas signed for a Japanese killing in 2016 (2 years/$5 million). While that won’t quite cut it for him in the Unites States, it shouldn’t take much more, relatively, to get him.
In 2010, for example, Colby Lewis signed with the Rangers after two solid years in Japan for 2 years/$5 million. Tony Barnette also signed with the Rangers in 2015 after one poor and two very good years in Japan, for 2 years and $3.5 million. However, both pitchers were older than Mikolas when they signed: Lewis was 30 and eight years into his career, and Barnette was 32 and nine years into his career.
While no one can predict his exact offer, MLB Trade Rumors has him coming back to the MLB for 2 years/$10 million.
Mikolas has a Bartolo Colon/Scott Kazmir/Rich Hill-like revival written all over him, and the A’s should give him a shot.
Click here if you have a strong stomach and want to know how he got his royal reptilian nickname.